Expansive study: Women in agriculture say barriers to equality persist


Women say that, despite some progress, they continue to see widespread discrimination in agriculture, such as financial disparities and in being acknowledged and empowered to make decisions. A new study from Corteva Agriscience shows that women see changes coming too slowly.

The study was released to coincide with today’s celebration of the International Day of Rural Women. Corteva Agriscience commissioned the 17-country study to underscore the importance of women in agriculture and to identify barriers to their full and successful participation. The study included 4,160 respondents living in both the developed and developing world on five different continents.

“We conducted this study to further understand the current status of women farmers around the world – from the largest farms in the most advanced economies to the smallest subsistence farms in the developing world – and to create a baseline from which we can measure progress going forward,” said Krysta Harden, Vice President External Affairs and Chief Sustainability Officer of Corteva Agriscience.


The survey’s findings reveal that although women are overwhelmingly proud to be in agriculture, they perceive gender discrimination as widespread, ranging from 78 percent in India to 52 percent in the United States. Only half say they are equally successful as their male counterparts; 42 percent say they have the same opportunities as their male counterparts, and only 38 percent say they are empowered to make decisions about how income is used in farming and agriculture.

Almost 40 percent of the respondents reported lower income than men and less access to financing. High on the list of concerns were financial stability, the welfare of their families and achieving a work/life balance.

Many said they need more training to take advantage of the agricultural technology that has become essential for financial success and environmental stewardship. This desire for training emerged as the most commonly cited need among the respondents for removing gender inequality obstacles. The numbers significantly exceeded 50 percent for all 17 countries, with Brazil, Nigeria, Kenya, Mexico and South Africa leading the way.


The majority of women reported progress toward gender equality, but 72 percent said it would take one to three decades or more to achieve full equality. Five key actions, according to the respondents, were identified to remove obstacles to equality:

  • More training in technology (cited by 80 percent)
  • More academic education (cited by 79 percent)
  • More support — legal and otherwise — to help women in agriculture who experience gender discrimination (cited by 76 percent)
  • Raise the public’s awareness of the success women are achieving in agriculture (cited by 75 percent)
  • Raise the public’s awareness of gender discrimination in agriculture (cited by 74 percent)


The research was conducted between August and September 2018 and included approximately 4,160 respondents from 17 countries spread across Asia Pacific (24 percent), North America (21 percent), Latin America (21 percent), Europe (19 percent) and Africa (15 percent). Most of the women were engaged in crop farming, with others engaged in a variety of other farming and related agricultural pursuits.

 The farms ranged from small subsistence farms to larger operations with more than 300 employees. Roles of those surveyed ranged from owners and managers to employees and workers. The average age of respondents is 34 years old.

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